What are Secret Santas?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 23 December 2019
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Secret Santa, also known as Kris Kringle in England, is a Christmas tradition that involves the exchange of anonymous gifts. White Elephant and Yankee Swap are variations on this game. It is common in the workplace and among members of extended families as a way of restricting gift-giving and saving money.

To play Secret Santa, all participants write their names on small pieces of paper and put them in an envelope. Each person then draws a name. The name drawn is the recipient of the gift. When playing this game, participants must agree beforehand on a price limit. This avoids uncomfortable surprises and guarantees that everybody will get something of comparable value.

All the gifts, bearing a name tag, are placed under the tree or in a designated area and opened as a group. Part of the fun is in guessing who the Secret Santa is. If the recipient can't guess after a few tries, confessing is okay.


There are a few dos and don'ts when playing Secret Santa. For starters, there are some unspoken rules about inappropriate gifts. If someone is playing with his or her immediate family, the choice of presents is almost unlimited. If, however, he or she is being drawn to participate in a more "official" Secret Santa, there are some presents that are definitely too personal to be handed over in the office and other work settings. This includes flowers, clothes and accessories, and anything that can be interpreted as too intimate.

To be safe, players may want to stick to gift certificates, a gift basket, or something like a CD or a movie. Players should remember to keep the receiver's taste in mind, though. If he or she doesn't know what the person likes, it's better to play it safe rather than giving something the person may not enjoy.

Over the last few years, some websites have been set up for people who wish to play Secret Santa at a distance. Participants of the same family or group of friends register online and then "draw" the name of the person to whom they must send the present. This is a great solution for large families who are spread out around the country and don't get to meet over the holidays.


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Post 2

Oasis11-A secret Santa present could be a gift card for a big box retailer or a restaurant. Sometimes it is hard to buy a gift for a coworker that you do not know very well.

A gift basket of gourmet chocolates always works well, but you will have to do some investigative work to find the right present.

Some offices have the participants list three gifts within the price range allotted in order to make it easier to buy for them, but this can take some of the fun away from the secret Santa program.

Some gifts for secret Santa exchange are a Tommy Hilfiger duffle bag or a Best Buy gift card for a man and a cosmetic set or a gift card for a restaurant.

These are some ideas but a site called Red Envelope offers a lot of other ideas in different price ranges.

Post 1

Having an office secret Santa program is really a lot of fun because everyone gets a gift and no one feels left out. A secret Santa exchange usually involves a limit on the amount of the gift so that participants do feel overwhelmed by the experience and feel that they have to buy something more expensive.

A great office secret Santa idea is offering a small token each day in a secretive manner to see if the person can guess who the Santa actually is.

I participated in a secret Santa exchange once and I had my boss who was a sports enthusiast. I gave small sports related gifts until the day of the actual exchange.

It was really fun because he would make comments about the gifts every day. Secret Santa gifts should really be minor tokens and something that you can have fun with.

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